2014 Business Excellence Winner: Susan Sylvester of Absolute Resource Associates


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Nominated by: Jean Gennaro of Absolute Resource Associates

As Susan can tell you, the first few weeks as a new owner of a small laboratory comes with its own set of problems and challenges: equipment in need of upgrades, problematic procedures and confused employees.

Back in 2000, after a 30-year career – first serving as a laboratory technician and then in management positions at large environmental firms in the Northeast – Susan and her husband Guy purchased Resource Laboratories.

Her hard work and the assistance of a staff of six employees helped turn a struggling laboratory into Absolute Resource Associates, a thriving full-service environmental firm.

But getting there wasn’t easy. Susan was floored by the discrimination she faced as a woman, having been flat out told by one seller that he would not sell his business to a woman.

Instead, Susan turned it around to make her gender help ARA succeed.

She earned ARA Small Disadvantaged & Women-Owned Business designations through the federal government, getting a leg up on government contracts.
She was invited by Senator Jeanne Shaheen to testify at a hearing before the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship to explore ways to strengthen opportunities for women-owned businesses.

And she served as a board member on the former Women’s Business Center.

An “entrepreneur at heart,” as Susan’s nominator calls her, Susan focuses on exceeding customer expectations, providing the highest quality data and services possible, minimizing the company’s impact on the environment, and building the business through nurturing relationships with customers.

She is as committed to her family as she is her business, staff and customers. The close-knit company culture keeps staff remaining with ARA for years.

Susan has said she believes in running her company with honesty, sticking to ethical business practices and surrounding herself with people who share those values. She has said the best thing about running her own business is being able to make those choices.

Hear, hear! Congrats Sue.

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